Over 500 pupils a no-show at NGSA

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…scores of others received zero marks in some subjects

The Ministry of Education will soon investigate what caused over 500 candidates who registered for the National Grade Six Assesment (NGSA) exams to be absent and what influenced some candidates who sat the exam to receive zero marks for some subject areas.

Presenting the statistics at the announcement of the NGSA 2021 results on Friday was Director of Operations at the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), Dr. Nicole Manning. CXC managed the 2021 NGSA Examinations because the Ministry of Education hoped to ensure the highest level of professionalism and accuracy.

According to the Director of Operations, while more candidates scored full marks, it should be noted by Guyana’s Education Ministry that some candidates scored zero.

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It was announced that Social Studies had the highest number of candidates scoring full marks and the lowest number of Candidates scoring zero marks. Compared to the previous year, English showed a significant increase of candidates who scored full marks at 142 but there was also an increase in candidates who scored zero.

For Maths, there was only one candidate who scored full marks while 10 candidates received zero marks. In Science, only one candidate scored full marks while 9 candidates scored zero marks.

Dr. Manning cautioned: “While it was not the highest over the last four years, it is indeed, I’m sure, something that the Ministry will be managing.”

Explaining further why it is a matter the Ministry should look into, she added: “It is very important from the perspective that at every one of the exams, you would have had candidates scoring at both ends and, just as all those times we are very interested in the high performance, I am sure the Minister of Education is just as interested in the low performers and would want to make sure that the necessary improvements are put in place, [the] necessary strategies, to ensure that these students are brought up to par.”

INDIVIDUALIZED SOLUTIONS NEEDED
Following the announcement of the results, the media spoke with Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand about the matter. She agreed that is of concern to the Education Ministery and will be looked into.

However, she noted too that the Ministry of Education specifically request that data on candidates who received zero marks be presented to the public because it helps to put into the nation’s perspective that there is more work to be done.

“People will take this statistic and make a political line out of it and I’m resting and waiting because we have always been getting zeroes [but] we are not talking about it,” she said.

Addressing what solutions are available, the Minister said that what she knows is that a solution cannot be simply placing candidates who scored zero into high school and expecting them to function. She said that individualized pathways for each of these pupils must be developed or they will be placed at a disadvantage from the start.

Manickchand said that it must be determined what is going wrong in the school system whereby a child could have attended school for 6-8 years but cannot write content on the examination paper that would give them a single mark.

After the processes are completed with CXC, Minister Manickchand committed that the Ministry will examine the exam papers to determine which schools are facing the issues and how they can be individually addressed. She said that this process of examining will include input from teachers and other stakeholders such as parents.

ABSENTEEISM ALSO A PROBLEM
Meanwhile, back in August, the Education Minister had noted that over 500 candidates that had registered for the NGSA had not turned out to write the exams.

On Friday, she told the media that the Ministry cannot yet say for sure what influenced this but will be working to ensure that these learners do not fall through the cracks.

“As you heard from the numbers, while a certain number registered for the exam, only a certain number took it. So, we have had what Dr. Manning called very diplomatically yesterday, absentees and they are absentees. What we have to make sure is that they don’t become dropouts. So, we have to go find them and make sure we get them back into the system and engage them in a way that is appropriate for each and every one of them.”

Asked why she thought the candidates were absent, the Minister said that she couldn’t say whether parents may have lost interest. She said that what knows is that the Ministry’s robust public relations campaign would have ensured that all parents of NGSA students were aware of the exam dates.

Even so, she vowed: “I am absolutely certain that I will not let one single child drop out at Grade Six. We got to go and find them, we have to find them…they have to become people who are independent earners and so we have to find pathways for them.”



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